BLOOMINGTON, Ind.-- Fall is turning to winter on the Indiana University campus. Thoughts are turning to one thing, and no, it’s not basketball.
This year, the buzz has been generated by the IU football team. The Hoosiers are bowl-eligible already. It's the first time that’s happened so early in the season in about a quarter century, and the one man who’s arguably responsible for it all never even takes the field.
"Herman Wells said if Indiana is going to participate in anything, it needs to be excellent. So for it to be doing as well as it is, puts a lilt in everyone's step," said Athletic Director Fred Glass.
Glass has been IU’s athletic director for more than 10 years. When you drive around the campus with him, expect to hear references to not only IU legend Herman Wells, but Eleanor Roosevelt and even bank robber Willie Sutton.
"Willie Sutton, they asked him why he robbed banks, and he said, 'That's where the money is.' And people say, 'Why are you investing in football,' and the answer is, 'That's where the money is,'" said Glass.
Indiana University will make more money on football this year than usual, but it's nothing compared to the third of a billion dollars Glass has poured into the school’s facilities in his tenure. When the IU alumnus arrived in 2009, the school was still recovering from NCAA sanctions. The football stadium looked like one at a large high school. Even Assembly Hall was literally falling apart.
“When I came back as athletic director in 2009, the athletic campus didn't look much different than when I left as a senior in 1981 and I don't mean that to be flippant, but it’s true," said Glass.
Glass is quick to point out he accomplished it without asking the State of Indiana or the students for any money. Although, they may have been the only ones.
"I unabashedly, shamelessly ask lots of people for lots of money. We get no student fees, we take no money out of the tuition bill, we get no appropriations out of the General Assembly. We get all that money the old fashioned way, we either earn it or we ask people for it,” said Glass.
Glass honed his fundraising skills in politics. First, as Chief of Staff for Governor Evan Bayh. Then, as the architect of the first Indianapolis Super Bowl bid. He’ll need those skills as the collegiate landscape changes and the NCAA allows athletes to make money on the image and likeness.
"It's tricky though. It's hard to say in America that we're not going to allow a kid to benefit from the brand he or she has created for themselves. So, I think in that way we need to move in that direction. Having said that, it doesn't take a lot to see the abuses that could be made as far as inducements," said Glass.
When he does walk on the field, Glass can look back both figuratively and literally on what he’s accomplished. It’s all easy to see, even if few at IU could have envisioned it.
"Being an athletic director not from athletics, I paid the price for that. But I think there was a benefit to being dumb because I didn't know I couldn't do it," he said.